Jack the Ripper immortalized himself/herself with just 5 gruesome murders, something even the best forensic scientists have never understood. Since the killing spree by Jack the Ripper over 130 years ago, there have been thousands of Serial killers, some with hundreds of victims, but none have gained as much fame as Jack the Ripper. A character surrounded by myth and theories, who may not even have existed, has become the benchmark for rating serial killers all these years. The development of many theories, some conflicting, has distorted our understanding of this serial killer over the years.
The Canonical five
These are the five murders that sealed Jack’s fame, with the most popular being the first, the double murder, and the last one. It is believed that Whitechapel had many active serial killers during this period, but none of them stood out like Jack the Ripper. His first Victim was Mary Ann Nichols, a divorced mother of 6 who had resorted to drinking and prostitution to supplement her stay at the hostels. The killer signed his work by cutting her throat before removing her bladder and other internal organs.
This gruesomeness was seen in all of Jack’s victims except Elizabeth Stride, killed in September of 1888. The most notorious murder was that of the last victim Mary Jane Kelly who was killed just weeks after falling out with her husband. She was killed in the heart of a massive manhunt. One neighbour heard her cry during the murder making this the only instance where Jack the Ripper would have been seen, identified, and maybe stopped, but the neighbour, Elizabeth Prater, did nothing when she heard Mary’s death cry.
The name came from a mysterious letter to the police
The “Whitechapel Murderer,” “The Leather Apron,” and “The red friend” were all the different names used to refer to our modern Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper was only the name on a boastful letter sent to the London central news agency in September 1888. The press ignored that letter for a long time until Sep 29, 1888, when they finally gave it to the police after reading the contents. In the letter, the killer said he would cut off the ears from his next victim, a prophecy that came true a day later on the night of the double murder when Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes were murdered on Sep 30.
A piece of Catherine Eddowes` earlobes was cut, which led to the police assuming that the author of this letter was also the killer. That is how the immortal legend of Jack the Ripper was born. Police in the modern days has dismissed the letter as a hoax, which is why we are not sure what to call the killer anymore.
The Murderer was not a royal after all
This was probably the most shocking speculation regarding the identity of Jack the Ripper. The Royal in question was, in fact, Prince Victor Albert, grandchild of Queen Victoria and second in line to the British Throne. The theories were raised by journalists and conspiracy theorists who alleged the murder of the canonical five was a silencing mission by the royal family of people who knew about the prince’s secret wedding to a former prostitute. The speculation was later changed to an alleged mental illness by the prince from syphilis, but none of these was substantiated.
Now, no one would boldly accuse the future king of being a deranged murderer, which is why the prince was never named among the prime suspects. Prince Albert Victor is believed to have frequented White Chapel brothels and had interactions with several prostitutes, which allegedly led to him contracting syphilis. A letter quoting the prince’s request for medication while in military service, however, confirmed that he suffered from gonorrhoea and not syphilis. Evidence that he was in Scotland during double murder also silenced the strong suspicion of the prince.
He was a trained medical practitioner
It is always hard to link medical practitioners to gruesome murders because they are meant to save lives, not take them, right? Well, not all of them. Jack the Ripper had a habit of cutting his victims` throat before continuing to cut their stomachs open surgically. Everyone agreed that this level of violence could only be associated with an extreme hatred for his victims, but the precision meant he knew his way around cutting flesh.
The police also agreed that the person able to make such clean surgical cuts had to have some training as a medical practitioner, either researching, teaching, or practising medicine. The killer in his letter to the London press agency, however, mocked the police for thinking he was a doctor. Later, researches have still agreed with the police’s conclusion that the person may have been a medical practitioner turned murderer after all.
He Had To Be An Astonishingly Regular Guy
The Metropolitan police didn’t have the profiling technology used by the police today to identify serial killers. Modern investigations have helped bring out the image of an actual Jack the Ripper and a probable address which the police were unable to identify. 100 years of technology and studying serial killers, however, profiled Jack the Ripper better than the Metropolitan police could ever imagine. Most researchers into his crimes agreed that he was a 25-35-year-old man, 5ft 5 or 5ft 7, attractive and outspoken enough to attract victims with few words but able to inflict that level of cruelty.
Laura Richards, head of analysis at the Scotland Yard violent crime unit, described their suspect as an astonishingly normal looking guy with a stocky build. She didn’t name the street where he might have lived, but she confidently said that with modern technology, she could direct the police on where to knock had they lived then.
There Were Over 100 Suspects, But None Fit The Profile
When the killings started, the police assumed it was the gangs because that is what they do, but the ferocity and negative publicity with no gang member ratting on others proved that this was not gang-related after all. By the end of the killings in Autumn of 1888, the Metropolitan police had interviewed over 8000 people and arrested over 100 suspects. The police’s list of potential suspects was so vast that it made it impossible for them to pin even one of the single murders on anyone. The public had their suspects while the police arrested another set of suspects. It was later discovered that more than 90 of the detained suspects were either wrongfully profiled due to racial or other personal reasons rather than fitting the profile.
The names of the suspects included Aaron Kosminski, an insane Polish Jew, and Michael Ostrog, who was only known for fraud and theft and not cruel murders. The police were forced to release all the suspects because there was no concrete evidence linking any of them to the killings. Over 100 years of studying jack, the Ripper have led to the conclusion that the police were, in fact, looking at the wrong profile from the beginning, and none of the suspects fit the profile.
The Victims May Have Been More Than The Five
The canonical five became the prime murders linked to Jack the Ripper because they had the same profile, and they occurred within one mile of each other. The profile of Jack the Ripper was based on these five victims who were all prostitutes, but other researchers have proclaimed this as a gross mistake. There were 11 murders in that period linked to the so-called Whitechapel murderers.
The police assumed that the other 6 were related to gang violence or other causes and not Jack the Ripper. However, many experts agree that other murders such as that of Martha Tabram, who was found stabbed on Aug 7, 1888, may well have been Jack the Ripper’s victim. 5 other murders also identified in the neighbouring towns are believed to have been the same murderer’s work.
It may have been Jill and not Jack after all
After the letter to the press in September 1888 signed Jack the Ripper, everyone was looking for a man. What if it was not a jack but a Jill? The brutality of the killings led to the suspicion that the murderer had to be a man. Moreover, in those days, serial killers were men, not women, right? Well, not really. The murder of Mary Kelly raised a different form of suspicion after the victim was found without her heart, unlike earlier victims.
The police received the statement of a woman named Maxwell Caroline, who claimed she had seen and even spoken to the victim five hours after the time of death stated by the medical examiner. Fredrick George Abberline then started suspecting that Jack the Ripper was, in fact, a woman. The police also discovered burnt clothes belonging to a woman in Mary’s house, which led to the suspicion that the killer may have burned her blood-stained clothes after the crime then dressed in Mary’s clothes before leaving.
It Might Be A Hoax
It would be hard to say that the author of the longest spree of unsolved murders in British history was, in fact, a media hoax. The canonical five murders were not necessarily uniform, and the rise to fame of Jack the Ripper seemed to favour only one person in London, the Central news-press. Jack the Ripper was a name largely sold by Mr Bulling, the editor of the central news-press. He delivered the two letters believed to have been submitted by Jack the Ripper to the police.
The two letters labelled “Jack the Ripper” and “Saucy Jack” were the only two of the hundreds of hoax letters signed by the killer that was sent to the police, and both came from the same editor at the Central Press Agency. Speculations arose that he was, in fact, the author of both letters written in a bid to market the agency, which was facing stiff competition at the time. Dr Andrea Nini, a forensic linguist, also fueled this speculation in the 90s when he said the two letters allegedly from Jack the Ripper were similar in writing to the Moab and Midian letter sent to the Scotland Yard by Mr Bulling.
The mysterious sudden end of the killings
The reason why Jack the Ripper remains so mysterious is that the man and his trail of bodies simply vanished into thin air. The sudden disappearance of both the killer and his victims after the murder of Mary Kelly put even more mystery to this strange character. No one could explain the origin nor the end of the murders, and experts could not explain why the killer decided to stop.
Many experts believe that the killer had simply achieved his goal or might have died after killing Mary Kelly, which led to suspects that died around that period to bear the most weight of suspicion. The end of the killings also came at a time when the rich were being blamed for mistreating the poor and the government’s ignorance of the plight of the people in the East End. The chief of the police had been forced to resign while the police went on the greatest manhunt in London history for the mystery killer.